Biomagical Engineering

In 1987 Mário Barbosa, António Costa Ribeiro, Rogério Branco and Vera Sá da Costa, on behalf of the Technical Section of Biomaterials of the Portuguese Materials Society (SPM), prepared a document entitled “Biomaterials in Portugal”, to discuss at “Jornadas JNICT”, the precursor of the present Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). The next step towards the constitution of INEB was the organization of BioEng’88, the 1st National Conference in Biomedical Engineering, held in Porto. The Honorary President was Prof. Corino de Andrade and the President was Prof. Marques de Sá. INEB was formally constituted on the 26th of June 1989, following a proposal of a working group formed under the aegis of the Rector of the University of Porto (UPorto), Prof. Alberto Amaral. The members of the group were Professors at the UPorto, namely Nuno Grande (Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar, ICBAS), Mário Barbosa (Faculty of Engineering, FEUP), Cassiano Abreu Lima (Faculty of Medicine, FMUP) and Marques de Sá (FEUP). Initially, INEB did not have own laboratories and was an umbrella organization for research in biomedical engineering. With the approval of a considerable number of national and international projects (e.g. by the European Commission) INEB had the opportunity to establish its own laboratories at the Faculty of Engineering, by refurbishing the former Colégio Almeida Garrett in 1992, where the research groups working on biomaterials and biomedical imaging and signal processing remained until September 2000, when the new Faculty of Engineering was completed.

In 1997 biomaterials research was physically transferred to a joint building with the Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC) in order to nurture the cooperation between the fields of biomaterials and biology, which in turn initiated the lasting association of the two institutions. In 2000 the IBMC.INEB was granted the statute of Associate Laboratory by the Ministry for Science and Technology, which has been contracted to a limited number of institutions among those that have been rated Excellent by international evaluation panels. This new framework allowed the institution to hire researchers in established as well as several emerging areas, such as medical simulation, tissue engineering, nanotechnology, bone and stem cell biology, geoepidemiology, cancer, inflammation in tissue regeneration and bioimaging.

INEB has been strongly involved in Postgraduate Education through advanced training of young researchers and professionals in several fields of biomedical engineering. Among many other initiatives INEB researchers strongly contributed to the creation of the PhD and Masters Programs in Biomedical Engineering at UPorto In 1996, the Medical Simulation Center, in partnership with the Faculty of Medicine of UPorto in 2003, and the Integrated Master in Bioengineering in 2006. More recently, INEB was also deeply involved in creating the Doctoral Program in Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology Applied to Health Sciences, which involves two schools of the University of Porto (ICBAS and FFUP) and four research institutes (IBMC, INEB, IPATIMUP and REQUIMTE). Additionally, INEB operates the Services Unit for Macromolecules and Interfaces (SUIM), which provides technology and training services to research centers and companies in the areas of interfaces and macromolecules. In 2011 INEB created the Centre of Competence in Bioimaging for Biomaterials and Regenerative Therapies, a new competence center focused on regeneration and cancer.

In 2008, IBMC, INEB and the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the UPorto (IPATIMUP) formed a consortium, the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (I3S, Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde), with the aim of becoming a major health research institute in Europe. The existing solid expertise of the three institutes in genetics, immunology, neuroscience, evolution, structural biology and bioengineering, associated with access to multiple biological models, will facilitate the development of integrated studies in the fields of Biomedicine and Health.


Research in biomaterials and tissue regeneration

In 1994 the modification and use of natural polymers as biomaterials became a topic of research at INEB, in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux (France). From then on polymers assumed increased relevance in biomaterials research carried out at INEB for studying surface-protein and surface-cell interactions, as hydrogels for 3D matrices or as nanoparticles for drug, growth factor and gene delivery. The cooperation with IBMC started in 1997 contributed to an increasingly biological input and a strong focus on bone and nervous tissue regeneration. Fundamental biological work on stem cells and on bone biology are currently areas of interest at INEB. Numerous initiatives, distinctions and awards helped shape the international reputation of INEB in this field. The portal Biomaterials Network (, created at INEB by Pedro Granja in 1998, is the main online source of information in biomaterials and tissue engineering worldwide.

The organization of the 12th European Conference on Biomaterials (Porto, September 1995) and the 16th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Ceramics in Medicine (Bioceramics 16, Porto, November 2003) were important milestones for biomaterials research at INEB. The institute is also among the few European institutions hosting two researchers having received the George Winter Award (in 2011 to Mario Barbosa) and the Jean Leray Award (in 2006 to Pedro Granja), attributed by the European Society for Biomaterials to one scientist per year in recognition of their excellence in research, Research in biomaterials and tissue regeneration at INEB is currently carried out in the framework of the Newtherapies and Biocomposites Groups.


Research in biomedical imaging and signal processing

Research in the field of biomedical imaging and signal processing dates to the early 80s, with studies developed by Marques Sá for the classification of electrocardiograms, in the framework of his doctoral thesis. In 1986 Carlos Sá, under the supervision of Aurélio Campilho, started a PhD thesis on image analysis of the microstructure of materials. In 1987 Aurélio Campilho initiated a research project on processing and analysis of retinal images, in collaboration with the Hospital Santo António. A doctoral thesis was completed by Ana Maria Mendonça in this field in 1993. In 1988, and under the supervision of Marques de Sá and João Bernardes, a project for acquisition and computer analysis of cardiotocograms was initiated. João Bernardes completed his doctoral thesis on this subject in 1993. Diogo Ayres-de-Campos joined the team in 1992, conducted a wide scale international evaluation of the system, and developed a version for intrapartum use, applicable in routine clinical practice. The system was commercialized in 2004 by Speculum under the trade name Omniview-SisPorto® and has been installed in more than 20 hospitals in Portugal, Denmark, the UK, Israel, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

In 2002 a new line of research was started by Aurélio Campilho addressing image analysis applications in Biology, in cooperation with the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands). As a consequence of the success of the image processing software developed to automate the in vivo video image acquisition of confocal images, a new European project was approved with the collaboration of an INEB team.

The Biomedical Signal and Image Laboratory was actively involved in the organization of several seminars, workshops, courses and conferences with international impact. For example, the 1992 Euro-BME Seminar on Medical Image Processing, Systems, Applications and Clinical Impact, and the 2006 conference of the Society in Europe for Simulation Applied to Medicine (SESAM).


Research in geoepidemiology

At a first sight it may sound strange why an Institute such as INEB has a group of epidemiology: although, for many years researchers at INEB were posing traditional epidemiological questions: What´s the incidence of osteoarticular diseases in the population? Are there differences among regions? Which external factors could be associated with the incidence and outcomes of such diseases? Epidemiology must take into consideration the fact that diseases vary across geographical regions and this variation can be caused by environmental or social factors.

The understanding that diseases are not exclusively a result of genetic and biological factors, motivated, in 2004, the creation of a research area at INEB on “spatial analysis of osteoarticular diseases”.

In 2007, resulting from the re-organization of the former Biointerfaces Group, the GeoEpidemiology group was created, in order to identify disease patterns, space-time trends and spatial clusters, correlate disease patterns with environmental and socioeconomic factors and analyze the spatial inequalities in health.

Osteoarticular diseases are among the most frequent causes of severe long-term pain and physical disability, affecting the quality of life of millions of people around the world. It is expected that the incidence of such diseases will increase with the ageing of populations, bringing pressure on societies and health care systems.

In the GeoEpidemiology Group, spatial statistical and geographical information systems (GIS) are tools used in spatial and environmental epidemiological studies, The research areas of interest in the group are the epidemiology of osteoarticular diseases and ageing. Osteoporosis, hip fractures and hip and knee arthroplasties have been the main research interests of the group.


Current and past directive structures


1988-1994: Nuno Grande (ICBAS)

1994-1997: Aurélio Campilho (FEUP)

1997-2000: Aurélio Campilho (FEUP)

2000-2003: Mário A. Barbosa (FEUP)

2003-2006: Mário A. Barbosa (FEUP)

2006-2009: Alexandre Quintanilha (ICBAS)

2010-2012: Mário A. Barbosa (FEUP and ICBAS)

2013-2015: Ana Maria Mendonça (FEUP)

2015-2019: Fernando Jorge Monteiro (FEUP)

2020-2022: Maria Cristina Ribeiro (ISEP)


Board of Directors (Secretary and Treasurer):

1988-1994: Adalberto Mendo (HGSA) and Maria Isabel Aires (CCRN)

1994-1997: José Fleming Torrinha (HSJ) and Jerónimo de Sousa (CRPG)

1997-2000: José Fleming Torrinha (HSJ) and Jerónimo de Sousa (CRPG)

2000-2003: Armando Padilha (FEUP) and Jerónimo de Sousa (CRPG)

2003-2006: Ana Maria Mendonça (FEUP) and Jerónimo de Sousa (CRPG)

2006-2009: Ana Maria Mendonça (FEUP) and Jerónimo de Sousa (CRPG)

2010-2012: Ana Maria Mendonça (FEUP) and Jerónimo de Sousa (CRPG)

2013-2015: Luís Filipe Pereira (CHP) and Maria Cristina Ribeiro (ISEP)

2016-2019: Luís Filipe Pereira (CHP) and Maria Cristina Ribeiro (ISEP)

2020-2022: Cristina Barrias (INEB/i3S) and Maria Cristina Martins (INEB/i3S)


Scientific Coordinators:

1994-2000: Aurélio Campilho (FEUP)

2000-2012: Mário A. Barbosa (FEUP and ICBAS)

2012-2019: Pedro L. Granja (INEB)